NPM: Acquaintances

Have you ever watched

As the crawl of time

And the sprawl of distance

And the weight of responsibilities

And the busyness of the mundane

Turned dearest friends

Into acquaintances?

I looked about myself one day

Like a shell-shocked soldier

And wondered how this happened.

How did I end up here alone?

As if I wasn’t at the helm

Of my own life

And this was all an unpleasant surprise

Rather than the result of

The choices I made

NPM: Birds Fly Away

Even if Death does not steal those you love, 

Time does.

Time slowly inserts wedges between lives,

Driving people further apart

Almost imperceptibly.

Time deadens the ache you feel for friends.

It numbs the pain of missing them.

Time gives you certain experiences

That are not shared with those far away.

Time hands you moment after moment

Until your hands are overflowing with seconds,

So that you must drop some memories, cut some ties,

To hold them all.

But that is just the nature of time-

It moves ever on.

So do people.

One by one, birds fly away.

It is not in their nature to stay.

NPM: Girl in the Tower

Little Songbird,
In your tower-cage,
How sweetly you sing
with no one to hear you.
How brightly you burn
with no one to see you.
You are isolated
because you are unique.
You are protected
because you are dangerous.
Do not be led astray
by books, or false shepherds,
or hope.
Do not dream of worlds beyond
your own.
Do not turn those fervent dreams
into reality
by ripping tears in space
and time
and pulling those worlds to where you are.
Stay here, Little Bird,
Stay safe.

NPWM Day 28: Whiskey Streams

Down in the valley,

Deep in the holler,

the whiskey streams

babble and murmur

as if intoxicated, themselves.

The air is redolent with

the fragrance of wildflowers

and moonshine stills.

Time slows like honey

dripping from the comb.

And if you laid your weary head

down on the loam

near that stuttering, muttering

white-lightning brook,

you might wake up

a hundred years later.

But nothing would have changed.

NPWM Day 26: Fresh-Cut Flowers

I filled my home with flowers

Bouquets upon bouquets

In every vase I could find

and some make-shift vases as well

Gorgeous gladiolas

in crimson, yellow, white

Hydrangeas overflowing their vases

like clouds, like rising bread

A dozen white roses

holding their secrets close

beckoning you to lean in

and breathe in their mysteries

Bright gerber daisies, joyous

and forthright

I never have fresh flowers

I don’t buy them for myself

But they were going to be thrown out

so I took them by the armful

More than I could ever need

and arranged them, not so skillfully

And for one afternoon,

I was swathed in scent

of lilies and roses and snap-dragons

But like a cut-flower

it didn’t last.

I’m going out of town in the morning

and so I laid out a large plastic sheet

on the floor of my living room

and collected every carefully-cut flower

every arranged blossom

and laid them reverently in a pile.

It felt like laying them on the pyre.

I wrapped them all together in

the smothering plastic

Bundled them tightly

crushing their fragrant, unsullied petals

and threw them in the dumpster.

Is it strange to grieve their

untimely passing?  The waste

of their pristine beauty?

The selfishness of one 

brief afternoon filled with 

fresh-cut flowers?

NPWM Day 17: The Weight of Words

You wanted to forget those painful times,
So when I wrote of them,
It hurt you.
You hoped those dark instances
Would pass and be gone forever,
Like a shadow of a dream.
But moments never work like that.
They’re never just gone,
even if they’re not written on paper.
They’re written on us.
They can’t be erased,
But the ink fades over time
And new stories can be written over them
In bolder hues, with broader strokes.
Moments of redemption, forgiveness, hope
That lay themselves over the old pains
Like bridges to cross over.

And yet I cannot help but fear
That I carved those bad moments
More deeply into your heart
With each stroke of my pen,
And no poem is worth doing that again.

NPWM Day 14: Chestnut

Beneath a giant, spreading chestnut

I found myself on a summer evening

The light hung like streamers from its branches,

pooling among its roots as molten gold

It creaked a windy greeting 

Its leaves murmured about sun and soil

and time, such time

I laid my hand against the massive trunk

and felt the press of years

and the pulsing life that started as a seed

still pushing outward, upward, always

NPWM Day 13: Life, Be Kind

If my heart will be patient,

tomorrow I will see

that life can be gentle.

Life can be kind.

Its hands are not always clenched in fists

to land the next expected blow,

but can caress and soothe instead.

Life can smile,

a real smile that reaches the eyes.

It does not always scold or curse.

It can speak soft words of joy.

Oh life, relent

and show me mercy.

Turn away the crushing tide

that’s pulled me under

and dragged me across the ocean floor.

Have compassion

and show me tenderness.

You and I have been too long at war,

enemies, who were once friends.

Return to me again,

and I will not wish you away.

Life, be kind once more,

and I will slow down for you,

relinquish my defenses,

take your calloused hand in mine,

and breathe.

NPWM Day 12: Glass

One withering look from you,

and I am glass.

One sharp word,

and I am fractured.

Who are you

to have such power?

To reduce me to rubble

with a glance?

And who am I

to be so overcome?

There was no exact instant

when I gave myself over,

but a slow series of moments,

binding myself to you,

and even now, I cannot regret it.

Even now, fragmented and failing,

I cannot.